Qatar Airways, the national carrier of the energy-rich nation, aims to start flying to Tokyo, having boosted the frequency of its Doha-Osaka flights from zero to daily over a two-year period to March, according to the head of the airline’s operations in Japan.

“I think what is necessary is to have a direct flight from Tokyo,” Jared Lee said in a recent interview, noting there are many projects in Qatar involving big Tokyo firms.

The 39-year-old Malaysian native said Qatar Airways has successfully expanded its operations in Japan since it began flights between Doha and Osaka two years ago, its first regular direct flight to this country. He said adding Tokyo to the airline’s global network would boost its growth.

The airline, owned 50-50 by the government and the private sector, launched the Doha-Osaka route in April 2005 with four flights a week. It increased the number to six in 2006 and then began flying daily this March 25.

Qatar is enjoying some of the fastest economic growth in the world due to its rich oil and natural gas reserves. It has the world’s third-largest natural gas reserves, after Russia and Iran.

Qatar recorded a more than 20 percent increase in gross domestic product in the three years to 2005, and trade between Qatar and Japan more than tripled from 1997 to $11.47 billion in 2005.

Lee said it is important for Qatar Airways to have flights to Tokyo, but the competition to get spots at Narita airport is fierce.

Qatar Airways has a deal with All Nippon Airways Co. so its passengers can connect to Tokyo, Fukuoka, Sapporo and other Japanese cities.

Launched in 1994 as a regional carrier with a handful of routes, Qatar Airways has quickly expanded. It now flies to about 80 global destinations with 60 aircraft.

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